Nails especially the toenails are at maximum risk of catching an infection. As we all are aware of the various environments with which our nails come in direct contact, we should be careful. People of different age groups suffer from different nail problems. One of the common nail problems is thickened toenails, especially the little one. Thick pinky toenail can be caused due to a lot of reasons and so let us have a quick look at some of them. Also if you want to cure any such condition, then you can make use of the home remedies mentioned or take some professional help.
So in this article we have covered all such headings and sub-headings that will give you an insight to one thick toenails and thick pinky toenail to be specific, and how you can treat them or prevent them.
The nail is composed of a total of six structures. These are-
- The nail matrix– which is the root of the nail. The matrix grows from a small pocket under the skin. As the matrix is always replicating and forming new cells, it forces the old cells to bunch up and pushes it through the skin. And so by the time the nail comes out, the cells are already dead.
- The nail plate– the visible part of nail.
- The nail bed– present under the nail plate.
- The lunula– part of the nail matrix. Lunula is the small, white crescent shape that is observable under your skin sometimes at the base of the nail plate.
- The nail folds– your skin grooves and hold the nail plate in position.
- The cuticle- a thin tissue that is present over the nail plate base from where the nail comes out of your finger.
What are Thick Toenails? – An Overview
There are several layers of soft tissue present under the nail bed and beyond. These tissue is protected from the outer environment and various harmful agents by the fingernails and toenails acting as a strong barrier. These fingernails become the most used tool of common man for various tasks like scratching, opening lids of jars and bottles. And with the progress of ageing the nails start to become brittle and break down easily, and sometimes a condition develops where they become thick.
When one toenail especially the pinky toenail becomes thick, it may be an indication of a fungal infection. There are many potential causes behind one thick toenail, but fungal infection is the most common one.
Diabetes or psoriasis like diseases also lead to the development of thick nails. But to go for the treatment one must be sure of the exact cause, and then further opt a specific cure.
What are the Symptoms of Thick Toenails?
A thick toenail is the basic symptom of a fungal infection. But there are various other symptoms apart from this that you should look out for-
- Change in color of the toenail to green, brown or yellow
- It is accompanied by a foul odor
- Splitting and crumbling toenails
- toenails can lift up from the nail bed
- dirt and other debris material stores under them
- scaly and chalky appearance of toenails
There might be little or no discomfort in the start of the infection. But as the symptoms aggravates, the condition worsens and it becomes painful.
What Causes Thick Toenails?
The reason behind thickening of nails and thick pinky toenails are various. There are both medical conditions and fungal, rarely bacterial infections leading to this condition. Some of the known causes are-
Yeast and fungal attack is the primary cause of thick toenails. Onychomycosis, a common type of fungal infection is the main reason behind unhealthy toenails. As fungus thrives and grows in moist and warm environment, they spread quite quickly in toenails.
And so one should avoid walking barefoot, in public places, and keeping your footwear and feet dry. As moisture helps in spreading the fungus, your toenails are more susceptible to such infections. Here are some other factors that help in increasing the risk of developing the condition.
- Wearing tight- hosiery or tight fitting shoes.
- Practicing poor foot hygiene.
- Wearing numerous layers of nail polish. Let your nail to breathe.
- Chronic illnesses, such as HIV or diabetes can also lead to an attack by toenail fungus.
- Having circulatory problems which decreases blood flow to the toes, further increasing the risk of fungal attack.
- Being an athlete, military personnel or miner. As the toenail fungi can spread from foot to foot through the floors of locker rooms and showers, this condition is common in these people.
Another cause known for thick nails is Yellow Nail syndrome. Though it happens to be the least possible cause, it is known to affect both fingernails and toenails. It leads to staining of nails and they become thickened and curved. A person suffering from yellow nail syndrome also experiences respiratory problems along with swelling in both hands and limbs. This is because of the fluid buildup around the lungs and in the hands and legs.
It is believed that Yellow Nail Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder, thought he exact reason behind this condition is unknown.
The main cause behind one thick toenail and thick pinky toenail is injury as the little finger is more susceptible to them. And so as a result trauma and injury the toenails thicken. People involved in exercise and sports are more prone to injuries and so to thickened nails. From soccer players to dancers, and people wearing ill-fitting shoes also happen to face thick pinky toenails.
As mentioned above, with the increase in age of a person, their toenails start to thicken. Due to aging process, it is not necessary that it attacks only the toenails, the fingernails also happen to thicken.
And so as people get older, the ability of the cells of their body to renew decreases as compared to its younger stage. This is one of the probable cause behind aging and thickening of nails.
The thick nails and the ridges formed along the nail which are caused due to aging cannot be treated. You can buff it slightly to smooth out the appearance of the nail, but it cannot get cleared completely. Psoriasis
An autoimmune disorder known as Psoriasis leads to the formation of red, scaly patches on skin. On the other hand Psoriasis of the nails affects both fingernails and toenails. It is often accompanied with the skin disorder.
One can know of the reason behind their thickened nails is Psoriasis, as it is accompanies by the development of ridges along the nails. And so if it is the direct cause then your nails will slowly loosen and will finally separate out from the nail bed.
Paronychia is another skin condition that leads to redness of nail and swelling around it. And so with time and multiple infections by fungus, the toenails as well as fingernails become thick. Slowly the nail layers will begin to peel off.
There are various habits of people like dishwashing, sucking of fingers, trimming of nails too much or the cuticle around it hat is leading to the development of paronychia.
There are several occupations who are at maximum risk for developing paronychia and thick nail. These include:
- laundry workers
How to Diagnose Thick Toenails?
A change in the appearance of your toenail is an indication of a medical condition that needs attention. And if the reason behind thick toenails is a fungal attack, then it is necessary that you visit a doctor. Attending a condition like this at an early stage will help you cure it completely.
The physical appearance of the nail says a lot about the condition, which can be easily diagnosed by the doctor. Also the doctor can use a swab underneath the affected nail or study the clipping of the nail to diagnose the condition.
How to Fix Thick Toenails?
Thick toenails can become embarrassing and so if you too want to show off your feet and make them look gorgeous, here are the top ways to trim those thick nails safely.
Step 1- Soak your feet in warm water for about 10 minutes and then dry them thoroughly.
This might feel like an unnecessary step, but is the one of the most important that most of us ignore. So before you cut your thick toenails, just soften them by soaking your nails for about 10 minutes in warm water. After 10 minutes finished, pat dry your feet properly and make sure that you clean even the spaces between the fingers.
Step 2- Use nail nippers to trim the nails.
Most of us are aware of nail clippers to trim the nails, but as they are delicate and not too strong to trim the tick nails, we would suggest you to use nail nippers to cut through the thick nails. The latter consists of a handle which is longer and makes the grip easy as compared to the regular nail clippers. Also they are designed such that it helps to cut across the nail straight.
Step 3- Make small cuts and cut straight across the nail.
Trimming and cutting of thick nails can lead to splintering and in order to avoid such condition one must go for small cuts. Also always cut across the nails in a straight way. Don’t give round shapes to the corners as this increases the risk for ingrown toenails. .
Step 4- Take care you do not cut yourself.
Poor blood circulation is also caused in people facing diabetes, just like thickened nails. And so even if you cut yourself you won’t be able to feel the pain in your feet due to reduced sensation. And so as these cuts go unnoticed, these untreated cuts which invite infections and result into serious health complications. So it is advised that you pay proper care while trimming your nails, especially thick toenails.
Step 5- Gently file the edges of your toenails.
After trimming the toenails, you should smoothen the sharp edges. You can use an emery board or nail file. This is important as sharp edges will be caught in your socks leading to further damage.
How to Prevent Toenails from Becoming Thick?
Thoroughly dry your feet after swimming or showering
Make sure your feet is completely dry after you shower or swim. This is important to keep your feet healthy as damp feet are more susceptible to fungal infection.
Wear well-fitting shoes or sandals and let your feet breathe
Tight and ill-fitting shoes can create problems for your toes and gradually the toenails thicken. And so make sure that you do not wear the wrong shoe and crowd your feet. It is important that you let your toe and toenails breathe. So it is advisable that you choose such kind of footwear that is open and doesn’t allow fungal attack and growth.
Wear clean socks daily
Clean and fresh socks will help you in keeping your feet dry. So it is important that you put on a clean pair of socks every day. And if you sweat a lot or are exposed to wet conditions then you should change your socks frequently.
Wear flip flops around swimming pools and in public showers
As we mentioned above fungal infections prefer warm, moist and damp places, and public showers and swimming pools are the perfect places to catch such an infection. So if you are exposed to such places very much, you should know to protect your feet. Use flip flops or shower shoes, instead of going barefoot.
The complications can increase if we leave the toenails unattended. And so we would advise you to ask for some medical help, before the condition worsens. Always be attentive to the changes that are happening in your body, even if they are the dead cells of our body. So guys we hope that after reading this article you will be taking more care of your fingernails and toenails.